On Leadership

As the leader goes, the business goes.

It’s amazing how time and time again, breakdowns in businesses can always be correlated back to a breakdown in leadership.

Leadership is the most powerful call to action imaginable — it’s not only opting to take responsibility for oneself and others, but to take responsibility for the cause itself.

Because of this, leadership is anything but sexy. It’s not attractive. And a lot of the time, it’s not really all that fun.

But it’s painfully necessary.

Without effective leadership, everything collapses.

Which begs the question, how do we effectively lead?

How can we discern the effective from the ineffective?

And perhaps most importantly, where do we put our focus to cause positive change?

The Realm of Ordinary

When breakdowns in business occur, the typical response (after deliberation and consideration) is to change what we’re doing. We think doing something different, better or more will be the golden ticket to a gateway of prosperous growth and production.

The issue with this is although the actions are different, the context is the same. Which means after a while, more of the same will continue to show up. There’s no difference in micromanaging versus managing, apart from the space that’s provided. If the management itself isn’t effective, the room to operate doesn’t matter.

Doing something more, different or better lives in the leadership framework of ordinary. What you do matters, but only in the appropriate context.

The Realm of Extraordinary

The realm of extraordinary leadership doesn’t acknowledge the doing until what’s far more important is committed to — the being.

As feedback arrives from their team and the marketplace, extraordinary leaders look first at how they are before pointing to what they do.

Every breakdown within an organization almost always has something to do with people. With people, what you do doesn’t matter nearly as much as who you are. When you embody a value or a trait that moves people, the “what you do” follows suit along the same wavelength.

This is where being authentic comes into play, as being an authentic leader is having your actions correlate with your commitment or stand.

So if your stand is an organization of service, integrity, empathy, you live that out. Who you are as the leader is the possibility of service, integrity, and empathy — with every action in congruence with your commitment.

Frame of Reference

Consider a breakdown in communication between a team member and supervisor:

Employee X is a dedicated, productive team member with a wealth of experience. His attitude is generally positive, with some occasional absented-mindedness sprinkled in.

One day, Employee X lets his tongue slip and engages in a frustrated rant directed towards his supervisor. The supervisor can then look at the scenario three ways.

  • The supervisor’s insecurity kicks in and Employee X is immediately terminated.
  • The supervisor’s looks at the situation and decides he needs to either do something to discipline the employee or do something different to keep it from happening in the future.
  • The supervisor takes the situation for what it is — the employee released pent-up frustration that, whether the supervisor likes it or not, he was cause in the matter. The supervisor recognizes that who he has been to this employee has been ineffective, resulting in resentment, bitterness and a lack of acknowledgement. The supervisor shares where he has fallen short is how he has been for the employee and commits to a more empowering way of being for the employee moving forward.

All three are examples of things that happen in organizations every day.

The latter example is what hardly ever happens, for copious reasons — most notably, not all leaders accept full responsibility.

Closing

As a leader, you have a choice.

You can operate in the world of ordinary, continuing to experience ordinary results with your team. Finger-pointing, lapses in judgment, and generalizations reside here. And while results may show up here, they hardly ever are sustainable.

Conversely, you can choose to live in the world of extraordinary leadership — always looking first at how the way you’re being occurs for other people. Causing a shift in how you are will produce a far greater and more meaningful impact than simply what you do.

Your team members will thank you, your partners will thank you.

And when it’s all said and done,

The marketplace will thank you, too.